|Maella Abbey (maella_abbey) wrote,|
@ 2009-06-24 23:34:00
|Current music:||Nox Arcana - Ancient Legacy|
[Fragment] Streetrat-verse, tentacular attack
You know, it's sad when you can't remember where/if you posted something, and so have to post it again... Potentially triggery content behind the cut.
Angelo was so focused on the fight, keeping track of the others as they were effortlessly swatted around by the creature's tentacles, healing them when needed and wrapping shells of magical protection around them when he could, that the sudden tug on his leg caught him completely by surprise. He hit the deck hard, the air knocked out of him; it took a moment for him to realize he was being dragged.
Before he could catch his breath to shout, he hit the rail; his hands scrabbled for purchase as he was lifted over. For a split second, his grip held, then the thing shook him loose, and something in his knee gave with a white hot burst of pain.
It was a surprise when the water closed over his head, as if his brain hadn't managed the connection between "going overboard" and "ocean". His throat closed against his reflexive attempt to inhale; his eyes burned, but he refused to close them, as if seeing the tentacle wrapped around his leg could somehow help him claw his way free of it. The tentacular's flesh was cold, hard, slick; his nails slid across it without making an impact, and he wished for his sword.
Heart pounding and blood rushing in his ears, he braced his foot against the tentacle and tried to pull his leg free. His leg didn't budge, though it felt as if he might be tearing it in two; through the agony and panic, he thought that might not be such a bad trade, his leg for freedom, air, warmth.
Goddess, it was cold.
His boot slipped, relieving the pressure on his trapped leg, stealing any hope of escape. For a moment, he simply drifted, then another burst of desperation made him move his leaden limbs. Leverage; if he could just get enough leverage...
He let his eyes close. He couldn't see through the clouds of darkness, and keeping them open was too much effort.
He couldn't seem to remember how his limbs worked.
The tentacular convulsed, dragging him through the water. Something in his damaged knee snapped.
Jessica bit her lip at her first sight of Angelo, his skin pale and faintly tinged with blue, his body flopping, a sodden ragdoll, as Marcello transferred him to Yangus. She still couldn't believe they had noticed the sudden disappearance of the near-constant flow of magic he kept up during more difficult battles, but not him. Not until the battle was over, and they had spotted the tentacle anchoring the second tentacular to the ship...and even then, they hadn't realized it had Angelo.
Yangus had severed the tentacle wrapped around the rail with a single blow of his axe, sending the monster into frenzied thrashing. Jessica, watching for an opportunity to strike, had seen Angelo, just briefly before he was yanked deeper into the water. She'd screamed, and cast something far more powerful than she'd intended.
Hugging herself, she wondered if Angelo had been conscious when the spell struck.
Marcello knelt beside Angelo's body. His eyes were narrowed; Jessica thought he looked annoyed by the inconvenience rather than upset, even when he bowed his head in supplication before casting the spell to bring Angelo back.
She'd seen him cast that spell more times than she cared to remember; she'd never seen it fail before.
He stiffened, though she suspected that the anger growing in his expression was now self-directed, or aimed at the Goddess, as if the spell's failure were a personal affront. She bit back the desire to scream at him, to remind him that Angelo was his brother; she couldn't make him care, and she didn't want to distract him from what he was doing.
Unbelievably, unbearably, the spell failed again.
Jessica pressed her hands to her mouth, smothering a sob. Through tears, she saw Eight kneel on Angelo's other side; he said something too low for her to hear, and Marcello snapped, "Do it."
Eight rested a hand on Angelo's shoulder; Jessica didn't realize what he was doing until Angelo coughed up water, then lurched into a sitting position, his breath rasping loudly and his eyes wide with panic. To her surprise, Marcello slid an arm around his shoulders, holding him up when his strength ebbed and he slumped sideways; for a few moments, Marcello's head was bent close to Angelo's, and she wondered if he was speaking words of comfort.
Of course, she thought with a sigh, it's much more likely Angelo's getting a lecture for being caught in the first place.
"I'm going to get Angelo dried off; the rest of you, figure out what to do with that," Marcello said, gesturing with his free hand at the dead tentacular which took up a good portion of the deck. Normally, one of them would challenge him, remind him he wasn't in command, but for the moment, no one had the heart for a fight.
Marcello braced himself and rose, pulling Angelo up with him. Angelo slumped against his side, shivering, head bowed; Marcello wasn't sure his brother even realized where he was.
A single step, and he found himself supporting Angelo's full weight. Silently, he cursed himself for not realizing Angelo might be injured, and cast his strongest healing spell. Angelo whimpered a little, a thin sound beyond panic, as Marcello adjusted his hold and coaxed him back into motion.
"It's all right, Angelo." He kept his voice pitched low, though the others weren't really near enough to overhear. "You're safe." Angelo's breath hitched, and Marcello tightened the arm he had wrapped around him. "You're safe, and I'm certainly not going to let anything else happen to you."
He hadn't meant for that last to slip out; he wasn't entirely sure of where it had come from, though he suspected it was the same impulse which had led Angelo to snatch up a sword he didn't know how to use and attempt to defend him. Still, the words—or just the sound of his voice—seemed to be calming Angelo, so he kept talking and tried to ignore the suspicion he was making a fool of himself.
He considered taking Angelo to the main cabin, but since Angelo was moving—more or less—under his own power, opted to take him below decks to the galley. Powered by the same magic as the oars moving the ship, the ovens kept the room all but stifling, and it was closer to their cabins. It might also give Angelo a few extra moments to collect himself, if the others didn't know where he was.
Marcello pulled one of the slat-backed chairs out from the hardwood table. "Sit."
Angelo obeyed, then let Marcello unlace and remove his shirt as if he were a child. "Angelo. Look at me." Marcello waited for his brother to drag his gaze away from the far side of the room and actually look up; the blue eyes were unfocused, but at least he was responding. "Will you be all right if I leave you alone for a few minutes?"
A long pause, then a nod.
Not the most convincing assurance, Marcello thought, watching one of Angelo's hands reach for the table and curl, white-knuckled, around the edge. "I'll be right back," he said, and Angelo nodded again.
Angelo stared after Marcello long after he had vanished through the door, then dragged the chair a bit closer to the table and pillowed his head on his folded arms. His thoughts were sluggish, as if still suspended in the water, and it took all of his concentration to keep his mind from drifting...
The door opened; not Marcello, the steps were too light to be anyone but Jessica. He squeezed his eyes shut and hoped that, once she saw he was fine, she'd leave.
Instead, she stopped beside him. "Angelo?" Her hand stroked his hair, sending water running down his back, and he flinched a little. "Did Marcello just leave you here?"
The edge of annoyance in her voice made him want to answer, but his teeth were trying to chatter, his throat ached from the salt water he'd swallowed, and he wasn't convinced opening his mouth wouldn't result in his trapped screams escaping, so Angelo shook his head without lifting his face from his arms. He couldn't form a coherent response, anyway, even if he trusted himself to speak. He focused on the wood of the tabletop, solid and reassuring against his bruised forearms, and tried to stop shaking. Surely he could manage that before Marcello came back...
Water crawled across his skin; he shuddered violently and clenched his teeth against the sounds—screams, whimpers, he wasn't sure—trying to claw their way out of his throat.
The door opened again; two sets of footsteps, Eight and Yangus, with Trode's odd, pattering steps trailing behind.
"How is he?" Eight asked.
Jessica's hand slid under his hair to settle warmly on the back of his neck. "I'm not sure. He's freezing."
"He'll be fine." Marcello strode across the room, and a moment later Jessica moved away and a blanket was draped over Angelo's back. "Goddess, the lot of you couldn't give him even a few moments' peace?"
"At least we were worried about him," Jessica snapped back.
"Do you honestly think I wasn't?"
Angelo woke slowly, still exhausted, his body still aching. He wasn't really surprised; he remembered a nearly continuous stream of nightmares, broken occasionally by a soothing voice which he supposed had been his mind taking pity on him...until he opened his eyes and saw Marcello dozing in a chair by the bed.
"Marcello?" He grimaced; he sounded like someone had been trying to strangle him.
Instantly alert, Marcello raised his head, a slight smile playing around his lips. "No screaming this time. That's an improvement."
Angelo pushed himself up on one elbow. "Were you here all night?"
"Most of it."
Marcello looked away, his jaw tightening. "Because I thought you'd need someone nearby."
He looked so displeased by the admission that Angelo was at a loss; his first reaction, to ask since when that had mattered, was definitely the wrong thing to say. "Thank you," he said finally.
"I'm sorry I didn't realize something was wrong sooner."
"Even I didn't realize something was wrong until..." His voice caught as his mind played back details he'd swear he hadn't noticed at the time.
Marcello's hand closed on his shoulder. "It's all right," he said; he'd said those words countless times during the night, Angelo was sure. "Angelo, look at me."
He obeyed, latched onto his brother's voice and touch as he had after each nightmare, and only then realized that he'd begun shaking again. "Goddess," he muttered, running a hand through his hair; it was stiff with salt.
The hand on his shoulder loosened, but didn't move. "You'll feel better after you've actually slept through the night," Marcello said, and he'd relaxed enough that the mocking half-smile was back. "Of course, I can't make any promises about when you'll manage that. You had screaming nightmares for a month after I shoved you in the moat."
"It wasn't a month," he said reflexively, even though he didn't remember how long it had been.
"Well, I certainly heard about them for a month. I also heard about how I should teach you to swim." He paused. "I suppose they were right about that."